Poetry essay: Current events poetry

One type of poetry is poetry based off of current events.  This could be poetry about political issues, social issues, natural disasters, war, protests, or something local to a community.  There are a number of things to look at when considering this type of poetry.

Is the writer impacted?

Sometimes a current event will directly impact someone.  For example, think of a tornado that destroyed a town.  A person who writes a poem about it, might have actually been there.

In other instances, a person might write about a current event that does not directly impact them.  For example, a person might be writing about a law that passes in some city where they don’t live.

Sometimes you read poetry where the writer fits into one or the other of the categories above, and sometimes you write poetry where you fit into one or the other of the categories above.  In both situations, both places are equal, but different.

As a reader of poetry, when you a read a poem about a current event where the writer was directly impacted by the event, you get a closer and more personal perspective.  The person can write about details and emotions in a real way.

Alternatively, when you read a poem where someone writes about an event that they are not impacted by, you gain the benefit of an outside perspective.  The person can see the event in a broader way and see how it relates to the big picture.  Because of their separation from the event, they see it differently.

These same ideas apply when you write poetry about current events.

How much time has passed since the poem was written?

This may sound like a strange thing to look at, as current events, by definition, are happening now.  That being said, past events were current events when they happened.  Assuming a poet wrote a poem about a current event when the event happened, how much time has passed since the writing of the poem can influence how it is read.

As time passes, new events happen and perspectives change.  The way a poem was read when an event occurred can be very different from how it is read years later.  This is something important to consider as you read and write current events poetry.

If you are reading something that has just been written, about an event currently happening, you might take note how you perceive it.  You might think about how that perception might change as time goes on.  You might write what you think of the poem and make a note to read the poem months or even years later, to see how your perspective changes.

If you are reading a poem about a past event, for example a poem about something that occurred decades ago, you might think about how you perceive the poem and how that might be different from how people at the time it was written perceived it.  If possible, it would be interesting to read commentaries on the poem that were written at the time it was written to get further insight into how perceptions may have changed.

If you are writing a poem about a current event, it is important to know that your perception of the event may change with time.  How you felt when the event happened might be very different from how you look back on the event years later.  This might be something you take into account if you are writing current events poetry, and it is something to think about if you read a current events poem you wrote after some time has passed.

What about the idea of controversy?

Although some current events have universal feelings about them (everyone will agree that a natural disaster was a tragedy) there can be differences of opinion surrounding them (people might argue about how the disaster should be addressed).

Other events are more inherently controversial.  Think about a change in any large political or social issue.  Many people will be split on how they perceive the event.  What one person sees as a good change, another will see as bad.  This is something to keep in mind when reading and writing current events poetry.

If you are reading current events poetry, you should understand that other people will read the poem differently than you.  A poem whose message you completely agree with, might be one that another person completely disagrees with.

The same idea applies when writing poetry.  If you write and share current events poetry, you should keep in mind that there might be many people who disagree with how you perceive the event (there might also be many who agree).  This doesn’t mean you don’t write or share the poetry, but it is something you should keep in mind, especially if you discuss the poems you wrote.

The idea of immediacy

An interesting thing about current events and current events poetry, is the immediacy of them.  A poet can write about something as it happens.  A reader can read about something as it happens.  This idea of immediacy can impact the poetry.

Although this relates to the idea of time passing discussed above, it is different in that the focus is on the now.  How does a poet write about something as it happens?  How does a reader perceive a poem about something that is happening?  This is something important to think about as current events poetry is written and read.

If you are writing current events poetry you should keep in mind the immediacy of what is happening.  The idea that you are writing about the present should be in your mind and impact what you write.

If you are reading current events poetry soon after it is written, you should keep your temporal closeness to the event in mind.  You should understand that it has an effect on your perception of the poem.

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